AC/DC’s international stardom grew from the roots of tragedy and despair. Formed in Sydney, Australia in 1973, the band’s original line-up consisted of brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, Bon Scott (vocals), Mark Evans (bass) and Phil Rudd (drums).
The world first took notice of AC/DC with their debut album, High Voltage, released in 1976. Despite the band’s tough image, it was initially the gay community that took to and supported the band. It was from the band’s earlier days playing for the Hard Rock Café’s Gay Nights that Angus began to wear his trademark schoolboy uniform. Legends were born and AC/DC were set to make music.
The album fared especially well in their homeland and forced the band to quickly return to the studio and record TNT which was released in 1976. TNT woke European and American fans to the band’s music. AC/DC followed with Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, an album which raised both their popularity and the ire of the Australian Parliament, who questioned the band’s morality.
It was after the release of 1977’s Let Their Be Rock that AC/DC began their long-lasting tradition of relentless touring. The band played to large crowds both as opening act (for Aerosmith and Deep Purple) as well as on their own name.
Their live shows solidified their fan base, praised for their volume and energy.
Just as the band was perhaps at the height of their popularity, having a Top 20 release in Highway to Hell, AC/DC hit their biggest setback. Popular vocalist Bon Scott died in 1980 after a night of excessive drinking. The band, instead of receding from the spotlight, decided to approach it head-on. AC/DC recruited singer Brian Johnson and quickly released Back in Black, arguably their defining album and spawning undoubtedly their biggest hit, “You Shook Me All Night Long.” The song reached as high as No.4 on the American music charts and pushed Back in Black to sales of over 5 million copies in the US alone.
The band’s popularity remained strong throughout the 1980s and into the 90s with a string of hit albums including The Razor’s Edgewhich reached No.2 in the US. Despite a slight quieting-down in the latter half of the 90s, the band and their popularity remain intact.